Buy Again Alley, Bundle to move
MIDDLEBURY — Main Street Middlebury will welcome a new enterprise later this month when the Buy Again Alley store moves from Frog Hollow into the 60 Main St. storefront recently vacated by Bundle, a pop-up events center launched this past April.
Meanwhile, Bundle will continue its sporadic workshops, classes and product showcases in a new, nearby venue: 51 Main St., which most recently hosted The Rough Cut Restaurant. Middlebury College holds the lease on the 51 Main St. space and has agreed to host Bundle for the same rent the venture paid at its former location, according to Better Middlebury Partnership Executive Director Karen Duguay.
Matthew Curran, the college’s director of business services, outlined the deal.
“We’re happy to welcome Bundle to 51 Main and have agreed on a lease through the end of June, 2020,” he said through an email. “Bundle is doing some great things in our community and we hope they will continue to attract our students to the downtown area. We are still looking for a permanent tenant for 51 Main, and we hope that by having Bundle in that space, more prospective tenants in the community will see the potential for locating a business there.”
Duguay stressed Bundle management is completely on board with the move, which ironically fits the pop-up center’s mission — to encourage downtown foot traffic during construction disruption caused by replacement of the Main Street and Merchants Row rail bridges. Work is currently centered in the Triangle park area, but it will intensify next summer when Main Street and Merchants Row will be closed for 10 weeks during installation of a large concrete train tunnel.
Duguay said filling 60 Main St. with a more permanent venture (Buy Again Alley) is a big win for the downtown.
“Part of our agreement when Bundle went into (60 Main St.) was that if there was ever a tenant that was interested in being full-time and permanent, we would vacate with basically no notice,” Duguay said. “We want these downtown vacancies filled. We don’t want to take up a space that somebody else wants to be in on a full-time basis. We feel downtown is best when it’s filled with full-time tenants.”
Bundle was scheduled to debut at 51 Main St. this past Friday, Sept. 6, with a swing dance class. Bundle has hosted many events since last spring. It is being subsidized through part of a state grant Middlebury won to market the downtown during the rail bridges project.
Workers spent last week sprucing up the 60 Main St. location for Buy Again Alley to occupy as soon as Sept. 16. Jutta Miska, owner of Buy Again Alley, is thrilled to secure a coveted Main Street locale. She said her landlord has agreed to let her have the space at a reduced rent for the next 14 months, when downtown construction is expected to be most disruptive. Her rent will then increase for the balance of her three-year lease.
Miska will now have 1,600 square feet of store in which to operate, as well as a basement in which to store overflow merchandise.
“I have been slowly but surely outgrowing my space (in Frog Hollow),” said Miska, who has had to stow her inventory in her home basement and garage.
Established in 2016 in 1 Frog Hollow Alley, Buy Again Alley sells gently used clothing and accessories, including belts, ties, hats, shoes, purses, bags, scarves, knickknacks, glasses and plates, picture frames, towels, sheets and jewelry. Her customers include college and high school students, tourists and area adults all the way up to seniors. Miska says she tries to make it a great place to pick up nice things at a bargain.
“Business has been going really well this year,” said Miska, who acknowledged the retail industry can be a rollercoaster ride.
She’s looking forward to displaying her wares in the gloriously large window fronting the main drag of Addison County’s shire town. And merchants in today’s retail atmosphere need to look for every advantage.
“Each day is different form the next,” she said with her trademark melodious German accent. “You can think you’re going to have a good day, and you get a bad day; you think it’ll be a bad day, and you have a good day. I have not figured out how this happens, to be honest.”
Having an extra 600 square feet of space at 60 Main St. will allow Miska to put out more inventory. She has no plans at this point to branch out into new products.
In addition to the increased foot traffic, Miska said the new location will be easier to access for customers. She noted the walk down Mill Street to Frog Hollow Alley is steep and can be slippery during the winter.
That said, Miska has nothing but good things to say about her previous spot in Frog Hollow.
“I was really happy in my space; it served me well,” she said. “The landlord was great. But I just outgrew it.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].